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Bones in South African cave reveal new human relative

bones of early relative found in so. AfricaScientists say they've discovered a new member of the human family tree, revealed by a huge trove of bones in a barely accessible, pitch-dark chamber of a cave in South Africa.

The creature shows a surprising mix of human-like and more primitive characteristics — some experts called it "bizarre" and "weird."

And the discovery presents some key mysteries: How old are the bones? And how did they get into that chamber, reachable only by a complicated pathway that includes squeezing through passages as narrow as about 7½ inches (17.8 centimeters)?

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Hypervelocity stars travel across the Universe, perhaps with aliens in tow

hypervelocity starsThe stillness of the night sky is deceiving. Because of the sheer vastness of space, stars appear unmoving like celestial fixtures. In actuality, though, they're zipping through the cosmos - some at ridiculously high speeds: thousands, and even tens of thousands of kilometres per second.

That's roughly 100,000 times faster than the speediest train and 1,000 times faster than the fastest spacecraft that's ever flown. That's fast enough for a few spins around Earth in the time it takes to put on your socks. The point is, that's fast.

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Ion collider produces droplets of primordial goo

primordial liquid produced in labhe Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider just spit out tiny droplets of a liquid researchers say resembles the seeds of the cosmos, a primordial goo created by the Big Bang, which existed only briefly before cooling into the matter that helped birth stars, galaxies and planets.

Scientists have reported seeing the tiny liquid droplets before, but this time, researchers got a better look at the production process.

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Astronomers spot 20 million year young, 'Jupiter-like' planet

New Jupiter-like planetAstronomers have spotted a Jupiter-like planet that could hold the answer to how our solar system was formed.

The planet 51 Eridani b is roughly twice the size of Jupiter and young by planetary standards, at 20 million years old. At 800 degrees Fahrenheit, the planet's surface is still glowing with heat from its creation and offers clues about how it was formed, according to a study published in the journal Science on Thursday.

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NASA's Kepler spacecraft spots planet 'somebody else might call home'

Kepler spavecraft finds earth twinScientists have spotted a planet much the same size as our Earth orbiting a star that closely resembles our sun, making this new world the most likely known place outside our solar system to harbor life.

The newfound planet, referred to as Kepler-452b, “is the closest thing we have to another place that somebody else might call home,” Jon Jenkins of NASA’s Ames Research Center told reporters Thursday. The planet has been at just the right temperature to boast liquid water for some 6 billion years, “a considerable time and opportunity for life to arise somewhere on its surface or in its oceans,” assuming the place has all the necessary ingredients for life, Jenkins said.

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Galactic assembly seen in early universe for the first time

Early galaxyFor the first time, astronomers in Europe have observed star-forming gas clouds in the early universe -- the building blocks of the first galaxies.

The faint glow of ionized carbon was spotted by the European Southern Observatory's ALMA telescope, located in Chile. To find these earliest galaxies, researchers trained the telescope deep into space, past the obvious light of more mature quasars and star-filled galaxies.

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Massless particle discovered 85 years after it was theorized

Massless particle discoveeredResearchers have discovered a massless particle, which was first theorized 85 years ago and thought to be a possible building block for other subatomic particles.  The discovery of the Weyl fermion, conceived of by mathematician and physicist Hermann Weyl in 1929, could be a boon for electronics, researchers said. It could allow electricity to flow more freely and efficiently providing greater power, most notably for computers.

"The physics of the Weyl fermion are so strange, there could be many things that arise from this particle that we're just not capable of imagining now," M. Zahid Hasan, a professor of physics at Princeton University, said in a press release.

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